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Showing posts from August, 2013

Unexpected Babysitting

A woman came over one morning to visit. Yari was just passing by my house and decided to stop up and say hi. She had her 3 year old daughter Josi, 2 year old grandson Jonatan, and 2 month old son Mikol with her. We chatted for a few minutes, she handed me Mikol to hold for a second, and we joked about how most babies start screaming the second they see the pale white gringa but Mikol just giggled.

Another woman, Lunia, passed by the house, said something to Yari, and they had a short conversation in Embera, I don't know what about. When I looked up, Yari was leqving wit Lunia headed off somewhere to do something. And I suddenly had 3 very, very young chikdren in my house. I have kids in my house all the time. But 6 year olds and 9 year olds and 13 year olds are very, very different than 2 month olds and toddlers. We were doing alright for almost an hour. Josi and Jonatan were playing with my stuffed monkeys and Mikol was content to swing in the hammock with me.

Then my cat, Jaguar,…

Thinking About the Future

One year into your service the Peace Corps Medical Office calls you in from out in the fields and jungles and mountains to check to make sure you are A. Still alive and B. Still in working order. I survived this one year check up, although getting 8 cavities and 2 abcesses in my teeth taken care of was anything but fun. However, when I wasn't busy getting my face drilled away I had 4 whole days in the city to take a step back from my jungle adventure and think about where the rest of my service is going, and then, where my life is going after Peace Corps.

Let me tell you, thinking about another year in the jungle is daunting. But also totally doable. I am comfortable in my Panamanian life. Thinking about life after Peace Corps, is- hold on, let me get back to you, I might be having a panic attack. Pretty much like that.

As adventurous as readjustment sounds, I am not looking forward to it, particularly if it feels anything like adjusting to Panama was. But the hot showers, mattresse…

Winning, Losing, and Living Somewhere In Between

In developing countries, it is no surprise to find women are considered secondary to men. Gender equality is something that even the bright and shiny USA hasn't mastered yet, so to find it here comes as no surprise to me. Or at least it shouldn't surprise me...and yet it still does.

I get catcalled, hissed at, stared at, and propositioned all the time. All the time. All. The. Time. I get men who doubt my knowledge and abilities in construction (and life in general) due to first my gender and then second my age. I cannot really trust any male Panamanian as a friend because in this country and culture, men and women just aren't friends. Before Panama, I never gave my gender a second thought when it came to my professional goals nor in planning my daily activites. Here, it is the first thing I think about. With 15 months in country, I have figured out ways to deal with all of this, ways to keep myself healthy and happy in this very different world. Even if that just means gett…

Where in the World is Darien?

"This one here is India, and it has the most people in the world," 16 year old Ediberto told 20 year old Ramiro, "Even though it is smaller than Russia and China,"16-year-old Gelido chimed in. "Actually Antartica is the biggest, but it isn't a country," 16 year old Dionel added. I had been mixing paint but froze when I heard their conversation. I couldn't stop grinning.

It is moments like that- tiny, anticlimactic moments that you could easily miss if you weren't paying attention, that make my job so awesome. To someone living outside of the Comarca, the conversation being had probably seems mundane and unremarkable, except maybe to scoff at the 20 something who didn't know where India was. Let me fill you in on the miracle here.

On July 1st, I sat down with a blank world map on a piece of paper and asked the 5 16-year-old seventh grade boys to show which one was Panama. They pointed to Russia. Over the course of a month, we spent our aftern…

Final Funding Countdown...6 Days and $292 to Go!

I am going to keep this one nice and short, and directly to the point.

Peace Corps called me today to tell me (in Spanish, so I am only 95% sure that I was understanding her correctly, as it was a shocking thing to hear, but I did make her repeat it 3 times to be sure!) that Peace Corps Global Funds wanted to help me with the funding for my project, but the most they could put towards my project was $2,000 so at this moment they could not help me...

BUT

If I got the amount I needed under $2,000 by next week they would donate the rest. SO.

I NEED $292.00!!!!

If thirty people can give me $10, I am there. If 15 people can give me $20, we are there.

At this point next week, MY PROJECT COULD BE FUNDED!

Two days ago I was sitting in my site, commiserating with another PCV about how I was likely going to be spending the rest of 2013, if not the rest of my service, looking for funding for my families. Today, everything changed with that one little phone call.

In the next 6 days, we can help c…